A massive cyberattack has taken down one of Germany’s largest newsgroups during the Christmas holidays.

Hackers knocked out one of Germany’s biggest news organizations over the Christmas holiday. Such criminal attacks, which often come with ransom demands, have become a lucrative business model.

Hackers took down thousands of computers operated by the Funke Media Group, who publish numerous newspapers and magazines across Germany. 

One of the biggest media organizations in German-speaking territories has become the victim of a sustained cyberattack over the Christmas holiday, forcing several newspapers to cancel or offer severely curtailed “emergency” editions. The attack, which is still ongoing, began last Tuesday.

The company announced on Monday that 6000 computers had been “potentially infected” by the attack according to Deutsche Welle, while IT experts scramble to create a “quarantine” network to evade further infections.

The attack forced the group to cancel or offer drastically reduced “emergency” editions of most of their publications.

Andreas Tyrock, editor-in-chief of one of the group’s major titles, told DW that “all editorial systems and the entire technology for newspaper production had been fun switched off”.

The Funke Media Group, which publishes dozens of newspapers and magazines and runs several local radio stations and online news portals, said on Monday that some 6,000 of its computers had been “potentially infected” in the attack, which had affected several central computer systems at all its locations in Germany.

Although the company has yet to comment on a potential motive for the attack, the hackers were likely cybercriminals in search of ransom.

Such crimes are increasingly common, with sophisticated digital gangs demanding Bitcoin in return for surrendering stolen or infected networks.

Andreas Tyrock, editor-in-chief of the Funke-owned Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), added in a statement that the “colossal” attack had left the data on its IT systems encrypted and made them “unusable for now.”

Experts say that such attacks have been gaining popularity among criminals for the last decade, and now thousands of ransomware crimes occur every day around the world.

Priyanshu Vijayvargiya

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Virtualattacks Inc' Priyanshu Vijayvargiya is a cybersecurity analyst, Information Security professional, developer, and a white hat hacker.

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